July 2010, 6 member male idol group Teen Top took the stage. Beginning with their debut song “Clap”, followed by the release of “No More Perfume On You” “Crazy” “To You” “Be Ma Girl” etc, they solidified their position. It wasn’t accomplished in a day’s work; their intense training process, their joy and ordeals. We’’ll reveal their past days through the eyes of the members. Teen Top’s challenge, begins now.

We welcomed our first holiday in 3 years. A 10-day break, while being apart from the members, I thought about our times in the past. The things that have happened, those that made us laugh, those that made us cry, before becoming ‘Teen Top’ have now become memories in our mind. The tough training times that we had before going on stage as Teen Top.. Now being able to stand on stage, to sing and dance is all only made possible because of what we had done in the past. Our memories become vivid in my mind…

From trainees to Teen Top members!

The first trainee among the Teen Top members, yes it’s me, ‘Ricky’. I was a child actor; so should I talk about how the six of us, Changjo, Niel, C.A.P, Chunji, L.Joe, became Teen Top members?

I was reserved in my elementary school days, so in order to make me more outspoken, I took up acting and I enjoyed the drama filming locations much more than school. From the drama ‘Ground’ which I had appeared in a minor role, to the kids’ programme ‘The world of my friends’ and a diverse range of commercials, I went for umpteen auditions. Although there were times where I had failed the auditions, I found just standing in front of the camera fun and enjoyable. To think about it, the audition that left me with the most regrets was the one for the movie “Sad Movie”. I went to the final round of the audition with Yeo Jingu who is currently actively promoting, but because of my bad crying acting, I wasn’t chosen in the end. ㅜㅜ

However, one of the directors I had worked with asked me to audition for a role in a music video, which I did, and that became a life-turning point for me. And that music video was Seo Taiji sunbaenim’s ‘Human Dream’. In the first year of middle school then, I had received less offers for roles and because it was the time when my appearance was changing so I  was in a dilemma as to whether I should continue acting or whether I should take a break and continue to act as an adult.

Seo Taiji sunbaenim is the president of music and my first meeting with him was nerve wrecking. When he told me that I have a “good gaze”, I tried to act with my eyes. The cause of my failure in the audition for ‘Sad Movie’, my crying acting; I was really happy and excited that I received praises for my good crying acting. After the filming for Seo Taiji sunbaenim, I was invited to his concert. It was my first concert ever! Seo Taiji sunbaenim’s concert started to path out the way to my dreams. On the stage, singers are passionate and are able to express themselves freely. From then, the dream of becoming a singer found a place in my heart. After the release of the ‘Human Dream’ music video, I had received unexpected attention which led me to audition for my current company and I took off, not as an actor, but a singer.

For someone like me who has only acted, singing and dancing were unfamiliar to me. Which was why initially I became more soft-spoken and my confidence was dipping. When everything was difficult for me in the beginning, Rokhyun hyung (member of 100%) taught me everything. He was a senior, a teacher to me, he taught me how to enjoy singing and dancing.

When I entered the company as a trainee, our company was conducting auditions at the theme park. So when it was the weekends, I would be watching the auditions, sometimes curious about who I was going to train with’.

Not too long after, through the open auditions, Changjo, Niel and C.A.P hyung, beat out thousands of other competitors which set them apart from the rest and entered as trainees.

Changjo was different no matter what he did!

My same-age friend Changjo. He said he was from ChunCheon. He was much taller than me and his dancing skills were not a joke. With his great skills, he had always received praises from the choreography teacher. Although Changjo had stayed the farthest, in ChunCheon, he was never late for training, nor did he complain about it being tiring; he had endless stamina. There was a reason Changjo’s great body and strong mental strength.

le Changjo was still in the womb of his mom, the doctor told his mom that the baby was weak and was at risk, so Changjo was born in the midst of all the worries. So the moment Changjo was born, his body was very frail. His parents were worried over their frail child and to make things worse, when Changjo was young he would take anything he could place his hand on and put it into his mouth and eat it so they had to go to the hospital often. There was once he ate a bottle cap and landed in hospital. Among the members, Changjo’s the most 4-dimensional and he’s really queer so I think that it started since young. Haha.

Anyways, in order to strengthen his frail body, he took up Taekwondo and Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee type of martial arts) since the age of 7 and while watching DBSK sunbaenims on TV, Changjo fell in love with dancing and danced everyday. When he became a middle school student, he started going for auditions. Although he was only in middle school, he would find out about the auditions himself, he was an adult(?), a matured friend, when he came from ChuCheon to Seoul for auditions.

Ah, and there was an anecdote which made everyone realize that Changjo’s the youngest one!  Because Changjo lives in ChuCheon, there were times when he was a trainee that he would stay in the dormitories, when the rest of the trainees go back home, he would beg one or two of them to stay behind with him at the dormitories. When I asked him why, he said that he was really really afraid of sleeping alone so he asked the hyungs to stay back with him. Although he managed to overcome his fear now, but Changjo was really like the maknae then. The maknae who was afraid of sleeping apart from his mom^^

Goodbye? Hello? A voice that you want to have, Niel!

I vividly remember Niel hyung who was a year older than me, when he first entered the practice studio. His long and thin arms, his foreigner-look, I felt like I had to say ‘hello’ instead of ‘annyeong’. And his name was even Daniel… I thought that even if he wasn’t a foreigner, he seemed to have lived overseas for a while but he said he was full Korean. He said his hometown was Gyeonggido Anyang. Niel’s hyung voice is really unique. He would make any song he sang, sound like a pop song and it was a voice that no one has heard of, it’s that’s unique.  Before we had started speaking a lot to each other, when Niel hyung sang pop songs, I really thought he had spent quite some time living overseas. His pronunciation was like a native. But when I asked him, he just said that he was just singing it the way he heard it as after listening to the song umpteen times…

Niel hyung and I hit it off well when we fool around. Niel hyung and I, the two of us, would make the practice studio really noisy so sometimes we would get told off by our hyungs. Before Niel hyung became a trainee, he had dreamt of being a soccer player. He started soccer in the 2nd year of elementary school, during the spring of the 2002 World Cup. In order to become a full-fledge soccer player, he went for soccer training lessons where he trained from 7 in the morning to late at night.

And hyung went to show his support for the World Cup at the City Hall with his friends, without letting his parents know, that’s how much he loved soccer. Although he liked the sport too, he said that he liked going out with his friends. As Niel hyung loved soccer, he paid no attention to his studies. He told his mom that he was going to the tuition centre, but he lied and went to play soccer instead. That’s when he was told to ‘stop soccer’

He also went for auditions for minor roles; he passed it and for every audition he went for, he was lucky, and was casted for the movies, dramas and commercials. The turning point in Niel hyung’s life happened at the theme park. As he was having fun with his family at the theme park, his mom saw the open audition going on and applied for him, so Niel hyung went on stage to sing, with no idea what was going on. That’s how hyung became our company’s trainee.

To be honest, on the final stage of the open audition, Niel hyung said he really didn’t sing well. According to him, when he saw Andy hyung, a celebrity as part of the judging panelist, he became nervous and couldn’t even hear the background music. So he screwed up his performance and wasn’t able to receive an award and was eliminated. However, the company called Niel hyung back again to train as a trainee. Even till now, between all of us, Niel hyung’s audition video is a banned video and it is also a mystery.

The strongest aura, C.A.P!

The aura that C.A.P, our oldest hyung, gave off was different. He is totally different when he smiles and when he’s expressionless. Not just rapping, but when he b-boys, it’s really impressive. When he would quietly hum some rap and write it down, even as a man, I feel that he’s really cool. As both of C.A.P hyung parents work, there were a lot of times to himself so since the 2nd year of middle school, together with his friends, they went to learn dancing. After he was exposed to B-boying, it was natural for him to fall in love with rapping. Maybe because he felt lonely, when C.A.P hyung was in middle school , he caused a lot of trouble and was rebellious. But after he entered the company, it ended his rebellious times as he was absorbed in training everyday.

And C.A.P hyung draws really well. He would be drawing something on his own but when we see the final product, we were really impressed. Sometimes he would be drawing on the desk at the practice studio. Sometimes, all our hands and arms would become hyung’s sketchbook. Along with the other trainees, myself, Changjo, Niel hyung, C.A.P hyung were practising our vocals and dancing, spending our trainee times with the groupings that we were in based on the results of our evaluations. And then, someone with a small face, with braces and wearing a neat school uniform came, it was Chunji hyung

The lively Chunji!

Although my first impression of him was that he was a model student but after speaking a few sentences, I found out that he was a lively and carefree hyung. Chunji hyung was a boys’ scout since elementary school and in his last year in elementary school, he became the top scout and led the rest of the scouts. That’s how much of a leader he is and he liked standing in front of the rest. When he entered middle school, as part of the special programme in school, he began singing in the vocal training class. When he sang his first song alone on stage, he said that he couldn’t forget the feeling when he stood on stage so he set his mind to becoming a singer.

When Chunji hyung entered, the trainees were going through a huge order. Just before our monthly, month-end auditions, we told that the trainees who failed to show improvement would have to leave. To think about it now, it was a more nerve wrecking stage than our debut stage. And on the day of evaluations, seeing the hyungs that we have trained with for a long time getting eliminated, we cried as we send them off. At the same time, we became even more determined to work even harder.

Our Lee Byunghun, L.Joe!
And L.Joe hyung was the last to join us. Real name Lee Byunghun, L.Joe hyung. We were not able to watch L.Joe hyung’s audition as we were treasuring the little time we had left to our monthly evaluations to practise at the practice studio.

I vividly remember us cracking up when we saw the name list for the auditions that day. In the name list, there were ‘Lee Byunghun’ and ‘Park Jinyoung’ and we joked that we had Hallyu stars attending the auditions. The small-framed L.Joe hyung wore a thick jumper and performed his self-composed rap at the audition. He was a little stiff at Korean. We were secretly anticipating ‘finally we have someone from overseas joining us’ but at the same time wary of him. L.Joe hyung’s audition created quite a stir amongst the trainees.

Because the company had told us that they would have an evaluation soon to confirm the members, we had a friendly competition among ourselves. In the end, L.Joe hyung was able to perform at the open auditions and joined us as trainees after he won the top award. We tried to confirm whether he was from overseas by asking him the meaning to the lyrics of some English songs.

Now if you were to hear how L.Joe hyung’s journey to be a singer, you would think that he’s the most courageous among all the members. When L.Joe hyung was a kid, he liked to prank others and had a wide range of facial expressions, so a lot of people told him that he should be a celebrity. However as L.Joe hyung moved to America in elementary school, he found it hard to adapt to a new place and he became reserved and soft-spoken.

Although he was in America, he read books, watched movies, watched Korean dramas on the intenet, at home. L.Joe hyung’s dream to become a singer sparked off. By chance, he watched a broadcast on Lee Junki sunbaenim and found out that before he was able to debut as an actor, he went for thousands of auditions. L.Joe became determined to come back to Korea to challenge his dream.

L.Joe hyung told his Dad who was in Korea then that he would coming back to the country to have fun and the day he had arrived, he researched on all the information for auditions and went for them. Alone, he researched for a  school in Korea to transfer to and he went back to America to prepare the papers. Despite facing his mom’s opposition, he came back to Korea.

Once, he went for an audition at a huge entertainment company. Although he prepared a rap, they told him to try singing, and so he sang the national anthem. At the huge entertainment company, the audition was 2 hours long and they even told him to put on the double eyelid stickers. He was in despair after failing the auditions but that was when he attended our company’s auditions and through the open auditions, he received the top award and joined Teen Top as the last member rightfully.

As he going for the auditions, he was in a real dilemma as to whether he should go for a double eyelid surgery.  We promised L.Joe hyung that none of us will go for plastic surgery and that jokingly we told him that if any of us does, that person has to leave the group. Without double eyelids, L.Joe hyung’s eyes are much more charming!

Just like that, all of us who had been living totally different lives, gathered at one place because of our dream to be a singer.

Written by: Teen Top Ricky

eng trans: @oursupaluv
source: Naver